Monday, September 9, 2013

There's Not Much Time Left

A.A. Milne

“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.”

I don’t want to scare anyone, but I don’t know how much time I have left.  Neither does anyone else.  My best friend died at the age of 18.  Other people live to 90 and beyond in full vigor.  I’m hoping I’ll still be in full health and vigor until I’m 100.  But I also feel like I’m at a turning point.  I need to make some major changes, but the only way I can do that is to have some major goals.  Not just daily, weekly, monthly or even annual goals, but goals that extend to seven years.
This idea came from reading The Pledge, Your Master Plan for an Abundant Life by Michael Masterson.  I don’t know why, but I’m ready for a seven-year-plan.  I remember a line from the movie Rising Sun with Wesley Snipes, where a character said, “Americans think to the next quarter.  The Japanese think to the next quarter century.”
I’m not ready to plan the 25 years, but I am ready to map out the next seven.  I think one of the disadvantages of being an American is that our culture teaches us to hurry, to want and to obtain things quickly.  I don’t think good things come quickly though.  I think they take time and we have to work for them.  I’m ready to make that time and I’m ready to work.
I’m also ready to slow down and to be patient.  I want to be wealthy, but I don’t need to be wealthy tomorrow.  I want the right people in my life, but I know that I will have to wait.  I want to reach my goals, but goals, by definition, are something that takes time, effort, patience, and planning.  I’m ready to start today.
The good news is this:  I’ve been preparing for this moment my whole life.  I read or listen to about a book a week and I’ve been doing this for about five years.  I’ve been writing since I was 14.  I’ve written over 200 blogs in fewer than nine months.  I’ve probably logged in over 1,000 hours of public speaking time.  I’ve written two books and am working on a third.  I’ve edited two other books.  I’ve even taken some motivational seminars and classes.  I haven’t just been sitting at home and doing nothing. 
If we look at our lives, I think we all might find that everything that has happened, everything we have done, even the mistakes and setbacks, has been a preparation for this moment.  There’s no need to wait any longer. 
Now it’s time to do more.  I need to take action.  I need to move forward on all the things I’ve done.  I need to do some long-range planning. 
The biggest mistake I’ve made up to now is not planning.  Until recently I haven’t planned my days, and I certainly haven’t planned my weeks, months or years.  Yes, I’ve worked hard on improving myself.  Yes, I’ve taken positive steps that have improved my life.  But I haven’t taken a long-range view of my life.  I haven’t harnessed my potential. 
This reminds of a time when I was younger and began running.  After I had been doing consistently for a while, I was full of joy, energy and excitement.  I didn’t realize that my new energy levels were connected to my running.  I didn’t realize that I was feeling the “runner’s high” caused by the endorphins resulting from my running.  I did nothing to harness that energy but feel good.  For various reasons, I stopped running.  Several years later, however, I began again.  Within a couple of weeks I was feeling the runner’s high again.  But this time I knew what it was and I harnessed that energy.  In the next 18 months I did the following:
·      I read 18 books, cover to cover.
·      I wrote an increased amount in my personal journal.
·      I wrote a book of poetry.
·      I did stand-up comedy.

Though my life wasn’t perfect, it was a time of amazing productivity and fun. 
I can have that again.  I’ve done well, but I can do better.  What I need most is the careful planning of specific goals that are based on my values.  I also need the right people around me to help me define and clarify my goals.  Although this is my life, I don’t want to do this alone, because my actions will affect the lives of others.  So I’ve picked people who will love and challenge me to do my best and for whom I can do the same.  Having the right people in life is like having a flower in the room.  It makes the whole place better.
It’s time to Get Started and to Keep Going…and to do these things with a plan.